By Interactive Metronome - January 2, 2014

Dyspraxia: Time to work smarter, not just harder

Dyspraxia, also known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to plan and coordinate motor tasks. It manifests itself in almost every aspect of life, from simple tasks such as brushing teeth and hair to more complicated sequences like dressing, following recipes and driving. Since any coordinated physical task becomes increasingly difficult for individuals with dyspraxia, many also suffer from fatigue and poor muscle tone. Although most daily activities can be learned through repeated practice or modifications, the condition currently has no cure.

 

Specific statistics are hard to find because dyspraxia is often misdiagnosed, or simply not considered; however, it is estimated that somewhere between 2-10% of children suffer from some form of dyspraxia, with over 70% of those cases being male. Dyspraxia affects each individual differently, which contributes to the difficulty in diagnosis and results in a variety of classifications, including:

 

·      Ideomotor dyspraxia – affects simple, single-step tasks like waving

·      Ideational dyspraxia – trouble with multi-step processes like doing laundry or fixing a meal

·      Oromotor dyspraxia – leads to word mispronunciation and feeding difficulty

·      Constructional dyspraxia – difficulty appreciating spatial relationships and direction

 

Children may develop coping skills early that disguise their symptoms and adults may view physical signs as nothing more than being “clumsy” or lazy. These charges can cause serious frustration because dyspraxic children are often trying very hard, at or above average intelligence and fully capable of understanding their troubles. Poor organizational skills and trouble communicating may lead to feelings of inadequacy, which heightens frustration and can lead to emotional problems. In turn, children will avoid physical activity and social situations due to anxiety and lower self-confidence.

 

Although rare, a stroke or traumatic brain injury may lead to acquired dyspraxia in adults. While those with acquired dyspraxia may have more trouble coping with their new condition than someone who has lived with it for years, the complex nature of adult life makes living with any dyspraxia a daily battle. Driving can be difficult because of immature spatial reasoning. Daily chores require additional effort and increased focus. Without repeated practice personal grooming can even pose a challenge. Trouble organizing, planning and remembering appointments also makes keeping a job difficult.

 

Additionally, dyspraxia is often accompanied by several co-morbid conditions. Dyslexia (difficulty reading/spelling), dyscalculia (difficulty with math), and dysgraphia (difficulty writing/drawing) are common, possibly due to problems with order and spatial relationships. ADHD, Autism, SPD and learning disorders can also occur with dyspraxia.

 

Despite the vast array of associated symptoms and conditions, dyspraxia treatment can be very successful. Like most conditions, early detection is essential in developing an effective course of action. Parents will want to take additional time practicing activities of daily living (ADL) and provide encouragement along the way. It is frustrating for anyone to have trouble coordinating movements and communicating. The patience and support from family and friends will go a long way towards alleviating that frustration. The reduced stress and positive emotional support may also help restore lost self-confidence and spur on interest in trying new things.

 

Specific treatment should be discussed with a professional after a proper diagnosis, but a variety of options are available. Depending on the severity, individuals may decide to visit an occupational, physical, and/or speech therapist. Occupational therapist will work to improve ADLs by prescribing methods to modify the environment or task. Physical therapist can help restore functional mobility by incorporating specific exercises into a personal treatment plan. Speech therapist will improve communication by working on language planning and oral muscle control. Regardless of the treatment plan, restoring/maintaining function and improving daily life are always the goals.

 

Many healthcare professionals have found success working with Interactive Metronome® (IM) training. Interactive Metronome® challenges users to complete a unique training program that incorporates language, visual and auditory processing, physical activity, attention and coordination. Research shows that engaging whole body movements in combination with cognitive tasks will lead to improvement in working memory, processing speed, motor planning, sequencing, balance, coordination and sensory processing. IM’s patented biometric technology provides real-time millisecond feedback to help synchronize the body’s “internal clock.”

 

In just a few minutes a day, a few days a week, IM training will help restore rhythm and timing to the functional networks of the brain. In time, additional practice will help to generalize this synchronized timing across all areas of daily life. Improvements in coordination, balance and motor planning help reduce the effort required to complete ADLs. This, in turn, allows an individual to reach their full potential academically, socially and professionally. Just remember, it doesn’t have to be hard! So, this year get up and get moving with IM.

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